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Consistent Inconsistency

Updated: Jun 17

GOP Senate Hopefuls Yet to Match Trump's Swing-State Success

It appears that former president Donald Trump is an outlier, yet again.

Trump is showing remarkable resiliency in the polls — despite being convicted in his New York trial, surveys put him ahead of President Joe Biden in most swing states.

The same cannot be said for most swing-state GOP senatorial candidates, however.

With less than five months to go before the general election, it appears that Republicans still have their work cut out for them.


Senate surveys were released this week in Arizona, Ohio and Pennsylvania. A Republican/Democratic polling combination, Fabrizio Ward (R) and Impact Research (D), took the temperature of Arizona voters, while Marist College conducted the Ohio and Pennsylvania studies.

The Fabrizio/IR Arizona survey, conducted for AARP, projected Trump with a 45-37-11-3% advantage over Biden, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Green Party nominee Jill Stein. 

Yet, the sampling shows Arizona voters favoring Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) over former news anchor and 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, 48-45% — a net 11-point swing from Trump's lead to Lake's deficit.

We see a similar pattern in the latest Ohio data. 

Marist College conducted the Buckeye State poll from June 3-6; interviewing 1,137 Ohio registered voters, either by telephone or online questionnaire. 

The survey showed Trump topping Biden, Kennedy, Stein and Dr. Cornel West, 48-41-5-1-1%. 

Yet, in the Senate race, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) posted a five point, 50-45%, edge over Republican nominee Bernie Moreno — a net 12 points behind Trump's standing, with Trump up 7, and Moreno down 5.

Marist's Pennsylvania findings follow a similar pattern. 

Pollsters conducted the Keystone State survey during the same June 3-6 period as the Ohio study, interviewing either through phone or online contact 1,181 Pennsylvania registered voters. 

The results found Trump holding a two-point lead over Biden, 47-45%, while Kennedy garnered 3% support, and Stein and West posted 1% apiece. 

On the Senate question, however, Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) topped businessman David McCormick (R) by six percentage points — 52-46% — or a net eight points below Trump's position. 


Though we did not see new general election data released in Nevada and Wisconsin this past week, this same pattern is present in these swing states, as well.

Trump is leading Biden in Nevada, and is almost tied with Biden in Wisconsin; meanwhile, in both states, GOP senatorial candidates are trailing their Democratic opponents.

In two other highly competitive races, Michigan and Montana, the Senate races are much closer. 

In Michigan, the numbers for Trump and Republican candidate, former Rep. Mike Rogers, are fairly close, with both races clearly qualifying as toss-ups. 

In Montana, while Trump is consistently running well ahead of Biden, the Senate race between incumbent Jon Tester (D) and challenger Tim Sheehy (R) is a virtual tie.

Some of the presidential-to-senatorial discrepancy can be explained through incumbency. In Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the Republican candidates are challenging incumbent Democratic Senators, Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Messrs. Brown and Casey, and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). But, that's not the case in Arizona, where the discrepancy exists even in an open-seat race.

The other state with a competitive Senate race, Maryland, is in a different category. Trump is trailing Biden in the Free State polling, and this will remain the pattern. Maryland is going to be one of Biden's strongest states, and GOP nominee and former Governor Larry Hogan has a different set of obstacles to overcome if he is to be successful.

With the current Senate map decidedly favoring Republicans — they must defend just 11 seats, as opposed to 23 for the Democrats — the GOP must maximize their win-to-loss ratio in the 2024 elections. 

Though from an electoral standpoint they are effectively at a 50D-50R break (in part, because of what appears to be a virtual conversion lock in West Virginia), the Republican leadership must make a concerted effort to assist several challengers in defeating their incumbent Democratic opponents. 

Getting to 53 or 54 Republican Senators is the GOP goal for this election year. They will need such a cushion when they head into the 2026 and 2028 election years, when the Senate election maps favor the Democrats.

Therefore, unless Republican strategists can find a way to break the pattern we're seeing in most of the competitive race states, where Trump leads and GOP senatorial candidates trail, they will fall short of their goal. Their offensive strategy will bear watching as it develops over the next few months.

Jim Ellis is a 35-year veteran of politics at the state and national levels. He has served ss executive director for two national political action committees, as well as a consultant to the three national Republican Party organizations in DC, the National Federation of Independent Business, and various national conservative groups.

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, he earned a B. A. in Political Science from the University of California at Davis in 1979. Jim raised his daughter, Jacqueline, alone after his wife died following a tragic car accident. He helped establish the Joan Ellis Victims Assistance Network in Rochester, NH. Jim also is a member of the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, which officiates high school games throughout the region.

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